Pet dogs and other pets can have a great positive influence on children and adults. According to scientific studies young children from pet owning families score higher in cognitive, social and motor development, nurturing, and they are better at reading body language and empathizing. Other studies have shown that pets help boost the IQ-scores and reading skills.
Many children around the world share their deepest feelings and secrets with their beloved pet. As they believe the dog is really listening and understanding without being judgmental, it helps to increase their self-confidence, making them feel recognized, accepted and admired. Next to being a pet-dog, dogs serve humanity in many other ways. Tasks dogs are used for include: guiding the blind and deaf, assistant the physically disabled, detect certain types of cancer, detect up-coming seizures caused by epilepsy or diabetes, search-and rescue victims from earthquakes, avalanches, and the Tsunami, track down lost ones, detect narcotics or explosives, or patrol for the police and army.
They serve as therapy dogs for the elderly or mentally depressed, such as people with Alzheimer disease, children with traumatic experiences. And they can also be great fun in sports, such as agility, schutzhund or obedience competitions.
Although dogs are very social animals and are very capable of adapting to human society with her rules and rituals, we often forget that dogs are still animals and will act accordingly. Dogs that are neglected, abandoned or misunderstood are more likely to transmit disease and can show aggressive behavior.
Many people are scared of dogs. One reason is that they were taught not to touch a dog as it can be dirty, carry diseases or be aggressive. Not many people know about or they underestimate the level of responsibility it takes to properly care for dogs, the consequences of over-population and the feelings like fear, anxiousness, love, and loneliness that dogs can experience.
Just like human beings, dogs that feel hungry, sick or are abused can become irritated quicker. And in some cases this can result in aggressive behavior. Therefore, over-population, improperly cared-for and misunderstandings of a dog’s language can be a potential risk to us and our children.
When children do not learn how to properly act while around dogs chances are high that they will be bitten. That this is true, and unfortunately gets confirmed by newspaper reports of young children who have been severely injured or mauled to death by dogs. A pediatrician told Ms. Nienke that he treats, at the hospital he works for in Bangkok, on average one child every other day for dog bite wounds of which some are very severe.
According to research a high percentage of bite incidents could have been prevented if the children and their care-takers would have known the basics of the dogs’ language, how to safely interact with dogs and how to keep the animal in good physical and mental health.
LuckyDogs and Care for Dogs have acknowledged this important aspect; hence we have developed the program Professor Paws – Humane education: Living Safely with Dogs.
The three main objectives of this program are:
- Students will learn how to safely and hygienically act around dogs.
- Students will learn what it takes to properly care for a dog.
- Students will learn English as another Language
The program is written as a 7 – 8 lesson course:
- Intro to Humane Education.
- Getting to Know Dogs
- What Dogs need
- Understanding a Dog’s Language
- Adapting Behavior Around Dogs
- Training vs. Behavior/Abandonment
- Fieldtrip (optional)
During the course of the program the students learn to relate a dog’s basic needs and care to their own needs and care. When a dog’s basic needs and care is properly fulfilled, it is better capable of keeping a good health and happy mind, leading to a more hygienic and safer environment for children and adults.
Following this, the students learn to recognize and acknowledge a dog’s feelings and understand how dogs communicate their feelings to us through a range of facial and bodily expressions. Based on these expressions, the students learn when a dog is approachable and when it is safer to stay away, and which games are safe and which ones are unsafe to play with a dog.
Intact dogs can reproduce uncontrollable, leading to over-population and over-capacity of the environment. Many of these dogs end up homeless and need to fend for themselves. As often the basic needs and care of these homeless animals are not met, they are subject to disease and unnecessary aggression whether that is due to lack of food, malnutrition or feeling unwell.
Untrained dogs can become a nuisance and even aggressive. As a result they are often abused or abandoned either on the streets, on temple grounds, in shelters, cast outside on a chain or live primarily in a cage.
Therefore, last but not least, the children learn the consequences of over-population and untrained dogs and how to solve this problem.
Throughout the program, English as a foreign language, math, science, art, social studies, music and community service are incorporated.
The program can be adapted to meet the requirements of any group, regardless of the English level or age of the children. It can also be taught in Thai, if that is preferred.
- this program to be taught at your school or other facility, or
- you would like to require the portfolio in order to be able to teach the program yourself (a donation is requested), or
- you would like to become involved in this project as a volunteer teacher